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Peoples Gas blames Logan Square outage on equipment from 1800s

The outage, which happened March 2 and left many residents without heat for a over a day, “occurred when a safety valve on an old, low-pressure section of the system from the late 1800s activated – shutting off the flow of gas,” according to Peoples Gas spokeswoman Danisha Hall.

Peoples Gas crews work to fix a natural gas disruption March 3, 2021, in the 2000 block of North St. Louis Avenue.
Peoples Gas crews work to fix a natural gas disruption March 3, 2021, in the 2000 block of North St. Louis Avenue.
David Struett/Sun-Times

Peoples Gas said Wednesday that a gas outage that affected about 1,300 customers last week in Logan Square was due to antiquated equipment that was installed over 120 years ago.

The outage, which happened March 2 and left many residents without heat for a over a day, “occurred when a safety valve on an old, low-pressure section of the system from the late 1800s activated – shutting off the flow of gas,” according to Peoples Gas spokeswoman Danisha Hall.

“The March 2 natural gas outage in Logan Square is an example of the need for Peoples Gas to continue upgrading Chicago’s natural gas delivery system,” Hall said, noting that a 2020 independent study found more then 80% of iron pipes in Chicago have less than 15 years of use left in them.

Peoples Gas is working to install medium-pressure systems — which are “more resilient and include advanced safety technology at every meter” — across the city, Hall said.

However, the utility company has come under fire for their system-wide modernization plan, which some say neglects the most at-risk pipes.

“We’re concerned that Peoples Gas’ system is old, has known risks and thousands of miles left of aging pipe,” said Abe Scarr, director of the nonprofit watchdog Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

“And they’ve known those pipes were at risk since 1980, and they’ve consistently failed to replace those pipes in quick fashion,” Scarr said.

The pipe-replacement program is also hiking up costs for taxpayers, a Chicago Sun-Times report found. Last year, the average customer paid $131 more for the pipe-replacement work, on top of their monthly gas bill.

Contributing: David Struett, Stephanie Zimmerman